Ethnic cosmetics – beauty shows its true colours

Published: 27-Jul-2011

Ethnic consumers today are a focus for the cosmetics industry and many mainstream brands are now targeting black and Asian skin. While years ago the choice for ethnic beauty was limited today it has seen something of a revival. It is being increasingly recognised as a lucrative sector with everything from ethnic skin care to colour cosmetics lines making an appearance.

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Ethnic consumers have increasingly become a target for the cosmetics industry as manufacturers try to cash in on this growing and significant niche. But are these customers really getting what they need? Nadia Di Martino reports

It would come as rather a shock if white consumers had to seek out specialist cosmetic brands in a limited number of stores, rather than simply browse the shelves of drugstores and supermarkets where they can choose from an array of mainstream brands.

This has long been the case for non-white consumers but today, as multinationals finally extend their offer to include a variety of ethnic shades and treatments dedicated to black and Asian skin types, the jury is still out on whether the beauty industry is finally catering adequately for non-Caucasian women.

Years ago there was only a limited number of brands for ethnic skin and these included Fashion Fair; Naomi Sims Beauty Products; Gazelle; Estée Lauder; and fellow Lauder brand Clinique.

In 2000, L’Oréal introduced the L’Oréal Institute for Ethnic Hair and Skin Research, testimony to the industry’s efforts to understand non-white consumers. According to 2009 research from Mintel, ethnic beauty products in the UK remained a very niche sector, representing just 2% of the total market for women’s hair care, skin care and cosmetics.

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